Coward’s way in

Tommy "Machine Gun" Coward makes his return to the ring. Picture: Trevor Price.
Tommy "Machine Gun" Coward makes his return to the ring. Picture: Trevor Price.

TOMMY Coward will make a second professional debut of sorts when he steps between the ropes next Friday night.

The highly decorated amateur joined the paid ranks last year and picked up two impressive wins.

But a hand injury curtailed the light middleweight’s development and has kept him out of action since last April.

The setback has made the 26-year-old ‘Machine Gun’ all the more determined to make up for lost time and ensure 2011 will be his year.

“I was hoping to be in a position to push for a title at some point this year,” Coward told the Times.

“I thought I’d have had four or five fights by the end of last year and get myself in contention.

“But I’ve struggled with the injury and it’s kept me out.

“I’m raring to go now and get some fights under my belt.

“I’m aiming for at least a British title and I’ve just got to keep on winning, starting next week.”

Coward has been hard at work training with Stefy Bull and Dave Hulley at the Empress since learning of his bout at Barnsley Metrodome on Friday night.

And he is convinced he is in better condition right now than he was a year ago.

He said: “My hand is much better now and I feel a lot fitter than I did a year ago.

“I’ve had plenty of time to work on my fitness and I’m better for it.

“I’ve done a lot of running and given my hand plenty of time to recover rather than jumping straight back on the bag and pads.

“It’s done my outlook on boxing a lot of good as well.

“I know for certain this is what I want to do and I’m really determined to get it right.”

Coward is set to meet Hull’s Richard Troupe, a fellow professional rookie.

The 29-year-old has had three fights, picking up a victory, a defeat and a draw in that time.

After drawing with journeyman Billy Smith on his debut, Troupe suffered a setback when he was convincingly beaten by Lyndon Newman.

But he heads into the showdown with Coward on the back of a maiden victory after beating Rick Boulter in October.

Coward’s trainer Stefy Bull expects his man to be put through his paces.

He said: “Troupe’s had a mixed start but he’s coming in with a win in his last fight so he’ll be game.

“Tommy will have to watch himself and make sure he concentrates.

“It should be a good workout for him.”